Our History

In the early 1920s, a cooperative was formed that had new ideas about producing butter. In those days, most butter was made from sour cream and was sold in tubs. This new cooperative made butter from fresh, sweet cream and sold it in one-pound packages with individually wrapped sticks. It soon set the standard for butter quality and helped to implement grading regulations for the industry.

The cooperative, of course, was Land O'Lakes, but it didn't start out with that name. The organization was incorporated on July 8, 1921, as the Minnesota Cooperative Creameries Association. In 1924, the association decided to expand its butter market, and a search was made for an appropriate brand name and trademark. A contest was announced to choose a name. To tie in with the golden color of butter, $500 in gold was offered as prize money.

Two contestants, Mrs. E.B. Foss and Mr. George L. Swift, offered the winning name -- Land O’Lakes, a tribute to Minnesota’s thousands of sparkling lakes. The name became so popular that in 1926 the cooperative changed its corporate name to Land O’Lakes Creameries, Inc., and later to Land O’Lakes, Inc.

Birth of the Indian Maiden

The now-famous Indian maiden was also created during the search for a brand name and trademark. Because the regions of Minnesota and Wisconsin were the legendary land of Hiawatha and Minnehaha, the idea of an Indian maiden took form. In 1928, Land O’Lakes received a painting of an Indian maiden facing the viewer and holding a butter carton. Lakes, pines, flowers and grazing cows decorated the background.

That painting inspired a new design for the butter carton, and remained until the spring of 1939, when it was simplified and modernized by Jess Betlach, a nationally recognized illustrator.

Fifty years later, with only minor changes, his design continues to capture the goodness and quality of LAND O LAKES branded dairy products from butter to cheese, deli cheese to foodservice sauces, to school-lunch macaroni and cheese to dairy ingredients for other food processors.

Butter was just the beginning

Dedicated to help its producer-members produce top-quality milk, eggs, meat and crops, almost from the start, Land O’Lakes began providing them with the feed, animal milk replacers, seed and plant food and crop protection products. This was done primarily through a network of independently owned and operated local agricultural cooperatives throughout rural America.

Not only did Land O’Lakes provide excellent products, it also provided some of the finest livestock and crop production expertise.

Since those early days, Land O’Lakes has grown to be the largest feed company in North America, the world-leader in animal milk replacers and alfalfa seed and the largest distributor of agronomy products in the United States.

Despite this growth, Land O’Lakes still is committed to helping America’s farmers and ranchers produce only the best milk, livestock and crops through one-on-one consultation and the finest ag products on the market.

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